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Maltese mark new year ...all around the world

For many Maltese, the new year means popping corks and sipping bubbly with friends until the crack of dawn or dancing the night away at one of the many parties being held around the island.

What’s better than celebrating the New Year in the city that never sleeps?

As one of the world’s oldest shared traditions, new year’s celebrations take on many forms, but most cultures have one thing in common – letting one’s hair down as the year tails off. The Sunday Times caught up with five Maltese living abroad to find out how they will be heralding the new year from their respective locations around the world.

Stefan Palmier, 30, will not be venturing outdoors. As a resident of Sparsor, Sweden, where temperatures plunge well below zero, he will be marking the new year indoors, nestled in the heat generated by the crackling fireplace and central heating system.

“Otherwise, we celebrate New Year’s Eve in a similar way to Malta, toasting champagne over an evening meal together with friends and family.”

Lino Mifsud, however, will be braving the slippery and snow-blanketed roads of Ontario, Canada, to head to the Hockley Valley Resort.

“But despite living for the past 30 years in Canada, I won’t be skiing – I’m a pure Maltese!” the 64-year-old chuckled.

He explained how associations such as the Malta Band Club, the Melita Soccer Club and the Gozo Club organise New Year’s Eve celebrations which unite the Maltese community in Canada.

“It’s a long way to get to the designated places where they’ll be gathering though. Travelling in the harsh weather conditions takes a long time. I miss how we used to all get together in Malta.”

There will be no ski gear or thick woollen coats for James Vella Bardon. The 32-year-old will be welcoming 2013 watching the splendid firework display throughout Sydney clad in T-shirt and a pair of shorts.

“It’s summer Down Under! I’ll be tucking into a nice chunk of barramundi, a type of table fish revered as a quintessential Australian brand. I might even pop down for a swim!”

For Tania Betts, 58, living in Doha, Qatar, the new year will be an exotic fusion of cultures and religions.

“I’ll be meeting a number of friends from countries such as Algeria, Peru, India and Canada. The beauty of living in Qatar is the opportunity to mix, understand and learn about other cultures. What astounds me is the respect my friends harbour for different religions. I’ll be going to Mass – Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to allow a Catholic church to be built.

“I look forward to meeting my friends over dinner and recounting endless stories concerning our countries, values and our ways.”

Massimo Farrugia, 31, currently living in Washington DC, was on a five-hour bus ride to New York City when contacted by The Sunday Times. “What’s better than celebrating the New Year in the city that never sleeps?

“For New Year’s Eve, Americans head to New York much like many Maltese board the ferry to Gozo for the Santa Marija feast – you dread the traffic and long queues for the ferry, but you still want to be there somehow.

“We’re thinking of Times Square – it’s very cold there at the moment. But the good company, the New York spirit and the booze will surely keep us warm until the Waterford Crystal Ball drops!

“A very Happy New Year to you all!”

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